Human Rights Act 2019

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    Queensland's Human Rights Act 2019 started from 1 January 2020, and aims to:

    • protect and promote human rights
    • help build a culture in the Queensland public sector that respects and promotes human rights and
    • help promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.

    For more information about the Human Rights Act visit the Queensland Human Rights Commission's website.


    Public entities (such as government bodies) in Queensland are required to consider and act in accordance with your human rights. Certain human rights may be affected by decisions concerning COVID-19, including:

    • The right to association;
    • The right to take part in public life;
    • The right to privacy, family or home; and
    • The protection of families and children.

    Human rights can be subjected to reasonable limits that can be justified in a free and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. Human rights are in addition to other rights.

    Human Rights Act overview

    Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 protects 23 fundamental human rights in law.

    The Act requires each arm of government to act compatibly with these human rights. This means that:

    • parliament must consider human rights when proposing and scrutinising new laws
    • courts and tribunals, so far as is possible to do so, must interpret legislation in a way that is compatible with human rights
    • public entities – such as state government departments (for example Queensland Corrective Services, Queensland Health, Child Safety, Youth Justice), local councils, state schools, the police and non-government organisations and businesses performing a public function must act and make decisions compatible with human rights.

    The Act clearly states that rights can be limited, but only where it is reasonable and justifiable.

    Which human rights does The Human Rights Act protect

    Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 protects 23 fundamental human rights:

    • recognition and equality before the law
    • right to life
    • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
    • freedom from forced work
    • freedom of movement
    • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
    • freedom of expression
    • peaceful assembly and freedom of association
    • taking part in public life
    • property rights
    • privacy and reputation
    • protection of families and children
    • cultural rights—generally
    • cultural rights—Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples
    • right to liberty and security of person
    • humane treatment when deprived of liberty
    • fair hearing
    • rights in criminal proceedings
    • children in the criminal process
    • right not to be tried or punished more than once
    • retrospective criminal laws
    • right to education
    • right to health services

    Making a complaint

    A human rights complaint must first be made to the relevant public entity, which has 45 days to respond.

    If you're unhappy with the response provided by the public entity, or if they don't respond, you can lodge a complaint with the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC).

    Please note: Complaints under the Human Rights Act can only be lodged to the QHRC after 1 January 2020. Complaints under the Human Rights Act can only be made about alleged breaches occurring after 1 January 2020. Find out more.

    If your human rights have been breached or limited in the course of another proceeding—for example a criminal proceeding—or may be a live issue within the proceedings get legal advice.

    Get legal help

    For legal advice about a human rights issue, contact us as soon as possible for more information.

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    Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

    Last updated 18 April 2023